McMillan comes full circle in accepting Skyhawks job
Stephanie Sturgis - Press Sports Editor
Martin will be familiar territory for the new head coach as McMillan spent eight seasons leading the Westview High School Lady Chargers to three state tournament appearances — 2001, 2003 and 2005 — including a runner-up finish in 2003. He amassed a record of 195-67 at Westview, a good portion of his overall record of 434-120 as a head coach.
"We made a decision in our coaching career that we were going to live where we wanted to live and be at home and if the opportunity ever presented itself to us to be at the collegiate level we would look at it. This is an opportunity that we just can’t pass up," McMillan said of the decision he made along with wife Paige McMillan to accept the Skyhawks job.
The rapport with the people in the room during the press conference — UT Martin staff and fans, parents of some of his former high school players and area media representatives — was obviously easy and comfortable for the coaching veteran.
The position at UT Martin won't be his first at the collegiate level. McMillan departed from Weakley County following the 2004-05 season at WHS to accept an assistant coaching position at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. He stayed on staff at MTSU for two seasons before accepting the head job at Gibson County High School. The successful sideline leader needed only two seasons to give GCHS its first state title.
When Tara Tansil-Gentry resigned as UTM head coach in late May, west Tennessee immediately began to buzz with talk of McMillan being her successor, even before applications started pouring in to UT Martin.
"The biggest thing that fell into place was that we didn’t want to do the college circuit to build a resume. We wanted to live at home and then if something happened it happened. We kind of let go of it. We were just fortunate that all the timing and opportunities lined up," he said of his chance to coach collegiately in west Tennessee.
McMillan is retaining assistant coach Jessica Grayson from the previous regime, but is sifting through eight to 10 other names to help fill out his staff.
"The only word I can use to describe it is 'renewed." Since meeting with Coach McMillan, he's given me a renewed attitude and spirit," Grayson said.
They will have to team up to "renew" a program that has flagged in recent seasons with a record of just 2-27 overall last season including an 0-18 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference.
"I’m really excited about the women’s basketball program at UTM. Can’t wait to get started. We’ve got to get a staff in place. We’ve got to start recruiting. We’ve got to get started for next year. And I just am absolutely ready to hit the ground running," the Skyhawks mentor said.